by Kyra Epstein, Commonweal Communications
As of November 2022, Commonweal officially has a new physical home in the Pacific Northwest–an incredible gift from Kelly and Diana Lindsay and the entire Langley, Washington, community.
For a number of years now, the town of Langley, on Whidbey Island outside of Seattle, has been important to Commonweal. A growing number of Commonweal staff and community members live or gather there. The Whidbey Institute, whose programs and staff have influenced Commonweal’s work, is located there. And it was the birthplace of Healing Circles Langley, which has expanded to include circles all over the country and world.
At the center of all of this is Diana Lindsay, founder of Healing Circles Langley and co-director of Healing Circles Global. Diana and her late husband, Kelly Lindsay, who died in May of 2020, built this international Healing Circle community based in a 100-year-old, two-story house, shingled in wood and overlooking the Saratoga Passage and Cascade mountains.
Situated at the edge of town, on a bluff across the street from the Whidbey Center for the Arts, the building hosts rooms for conversation, an art room, meditation and qigong rooms, community living spaces and a kitchen. The building is filled with the work of Whidbey artists–of which there are many–so that visitors feel welcomed by the community from the moment they walk in.
For 25 years, the house was home for the marketing communications firm Diana and Kelly founded together, called Lindsay Communications. In 2006, Diana was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.
“After my recovery from Stage 4 lung cancer, we wanted to expand our work with cancer patients,” Diana said. “One afternoon, Kelly came up the stairs and said: we need to dedicate the entire building to healing. We wanted to offer the building for the social support for the community and the idea of intentional healing. The next day, we met Michael Lerner, who said he had ‘this idea called Healing Circles’–and by noon we agreed to work together.”
The idea took off, with up to 60 events a month for people with cancer or other illnesses, those suffering from grief, and those wanting connection, creativity, and community.
“We had a couple come in a while back. The man had cancer, and it had been a long haul: the wife was a beautiful but exhausted caregiver,” Diana said. “They walked in for a Healing Circle, and were so relieved to have a place to be listened to about their experience, fear, and hopes. This is the way our network holds our community.”
In late 2018, Kelly was diagnosed with glioblastoma. “Throughout his illness, our community supported us and we loved them back,” recalled Diana. He died two weeks before the COVID lockdown.
Before he died, Kelly wanted to make a large gift to Healing Circles and Commonweal. Both Diana and Kelly wanted to offer a gift that would be a low burden to Commonweal, so a lot of work went into the infrastructure of the building: fencing, shingles, roof, solar, concrete foundation, and heating. After Kelly died, Diana wanted to honor his impulse to make a gift, his deep love of the building itself, and his love of building projects for his family. She raised money from the community, and offered the rest of the gift from Kelly and herself.
“I’m thrilled that Commonweal wanted to have a home here, to partner with us, and to support intentional healing programs,” Diana said. “Whidbey has a gift for community; Commonweal has a gift for stewardship. Together, we can support the healing of ourselves and our planet as has always been Commonweal’s mission.”